Indiana Landmarks offers to take old school building

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  As the Switzerland County School Board continues its discussions on the demolition of the old Vevay High School, some information was presented at Monday night’s meeting concerning a preservation group.

  School Board member Tye Sullivan said during a report of the Facilities and Grounds committee that Indiana Landmarks had made an offer to the school corporation to take the building.

  The offer, which is contained in a letter from Jarrad Holbrook, Southeast Field Office Director for Indiana Landmarks, was dated November 17th, 2017. In the letter, Holbrook says that Indiana Landmarks would like the corporation to gift the property to the organization:

  “Indiana Landmarks has agreed to accept the Vevay property at 305 W. Seminary Street commonly known as the Vevay Old School. Should the School Board elect to donate the property and agreed upon space around the property for parking and access, Indiana Landmarks will perform minor stabilization upon taking ownership. We have allocated up to $20,000 for work that includes cleaning out the interior, removing drop ceilings, and opening  up the historic window openings. We would market the property to our network of preservation minded buyers,” the letter said.

  Holbrook continued: “This pre-Civil War schoolhouse is a rare resource and holds a great deal of memories and history for Vevay. We are happy to provide assistance in keeping this building active and providing a touchstone to the past for all residents.”

  During the public comments portion of the meeting, school board member Jill Cord spoke as a member of the public about the offer. Following the meeting, she provided a written transcript of her statement, which included, but wasn’t limited to:

  “…As per Mr. Sullivan’s Facilities and Grouds report, over three months have passed since the Indiana Landmarks offer, but to date neither the school board nor superintendent have made this Indiana Landmarks offer known to the public through a local newspaper article, through social media, or through the corporation’s website or school newsletter,” Cord said. “My question is — when is this offer going to be communicated to the public so that the community can be appraised of this viable option for saving and repurposing our state historic registered and soon to be national historic registered beloved local landmark.

  “So many of our county’s residents feel as I do that demolishing the old school would be unconscionable. We feel that our children and their parents have seen enough destruction just this past year on the news, from natural disasters, terrorism, wars, and the desecration of historic monuments to last a lifetime, without a school board destroying an old school in the backyard of the Old Gym where our children play regularly….

  “…The Switzerland County community deserves to be informed of this offer for keeping our building alive. As a school board it is our obligation to facilitate the transfer of the property to Indiana Landmarks or to another preservation-minded buyer in the near future. Please let us begin to work together toward this end.”

  There was no discussion on the offer by the school board. The facilities and grounds committee did hold a public meeting recently with architects in an effort to see what options were available for demolition.